Some people use the term “male menopause” to refer to hormonal changes that men experience as they get older. Men experience symptoms resulting from a decrease in the male hormone called as “testosterone”. This condition is referred to as andropause or in other words it is called as male menopause. It affects up to 30 per cent of men in their 50s and becomes more prevalent with age, says Dr Chandrika Kulkarni, Consultant Obstetrician Gynecologist and fertility specialist; Cloudnine Group of Hospitals.
“Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. However, subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as age 45 to 50 and more dramatically after the age of 70 in some men,” the doctor said.
Male menopause differs from female menopause in several ways. Not all men experience andropause and also it doesn't involve a complete shut-down of the reproductive organs. Sexual complications may arise as a result of lowered hormone levels. Male menopause can cause physical, sexual, and psychological problems. The symptoms typically worsen as one gets older, she warns.
Watch out for the symptoms: The doctor points out: "The symptom most associated with hypogonadism (low level of hormones) is low libido. Other manifestations of hypogonadism include: erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass and strength, increased body fat, decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis, and decreased vitality and depressed mood. Osteoporosis is twice more common in hypogonadal (low level of hormones) men as compared to eugonadal (normal level of hormones) men (6 vs 2.8 per cent)."
How is Andropause diagnosed and what is its treatment? Dr Kulkarni answers:
It is recommended to test older men for low testosterone levels only if they have signs or symptoms. If an initial test shows low testosterone, the test should be repeated to confirm the results.
The initial treatment for symptoms of male menopause is making healthier lifestyle choices. Healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, reducing stress levels. These lifestyle habits can benefit all men.
After adopting these habits, men who are experiencing symptoms of male menopause may see a dramatic change in their overall health. It's normal to experience a decline in testosterone levels as one gets older. For many men, the symptoms are manageable even without treatment. If the symptoms are cause hardship, consultation with the specialist is advised. They can provide recommendations to help manage or treat symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy is another treatment option. However, testosterone replacement therapy has its own potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer and increase the risk of heart disease.